Please Welcome: Szabolcs Tolnai

With a selection of over 200 short films not everyone is able to attend IFFR. To include them as much as possible we welcome filmmakers through pre-screening Q&A's about their selected work. For the film Minotaur the director Szabolcs Tolnai wrote a short article. 

The Minotaur film, likewise the Strange Forest were made based on the same literary text, i.e. a short story by Judit Salgo, under the title Minotaur. She is a writer from Novi Sad (Serbia), a city where I grew up and the author was the friend of our family. My father, Ottó Tolnai, is a writer, too. He and Judit Salgo belong to the same generation of neoavantgarde and conceptualists writers. She died in the 1990s. The stress caused by the war was decisive to the deterioration of her health and too early death. The Minotaur short story was found in her bequest, among her last works (it is possible, it was the very last one).
It is still a story untold and it is vital for me to tell it. Not because this is a story of my environment and background, but also because of the respect I feel towards Judit Salgo, who wrote such a masterpiece in the last days of her life. She is also, relatively, unknown, that is why I assumed the responsibility to screen the story. This time I decided to make it fully in accordance with the story, with all its playful neoavantgarde and postmodern elements, so important for her poetry. Despite all difficulties related to the lack of funds, I started to shoot the film from my own sources and shot the parts missing from the original story.
The original short story by Judit Salgo is featured by its open genre and experimenting, however the influence of postmodern poetry is dominant as well. The method of speech is very personal, a woman's monologue, while regional specificities and colours(in this specific case, that of the district I grew up and where she used to live) are in the close-up. It is impossible to establish the ultimate meaning of the text in her works. Re-reading and re-interpreting, the use of ready-made elements from other stories broadens the relativism of her works to infinity. The lyrical form of the text-story is in the forefront.


I wanted to reflect the playfulness and experimental character of the literary text, likewise the playful spirit of that generation, which I wanted to immortalize, especially those who were creative artists at that time and whose spirit is slowly disappearing in the present, uniformed world, where mediocracy and film “managers” manage the art of film, killing its very essence. This is, in fact free and playful thinking and free creation, where the piece of art becomes part of one's life, a method by which the artist leaves a trace in time, or, as she calls it “braking trace”. In this artistic code, the material and the scene are not important without the context. What matters is the thought, the originality of thought which gives them meaning.

This is one of the reasons why I kept, deliberately, the central scene in the film, i.e. the presentation scene in the hotel, in a similar form in both films. I believe that this scene symbolises our present-day world of simulacrum, and within that, time and space expand to infinity in certain moments, just like in a real maze. By putting similar scenes in different context I wanted to pay respect to Lev Kuleshov and his experiment, in which he provided evidence, that acting in film is different in nature from acting in theatre, and it, first and foremost, depends on the context and thereby he, for the first time, touched the essential nature and truth of film, which is made of frames, which are given their meaning in their mutual relation and their truth and space is changing depending on the context (This is the phenomenon of the film medium and Eisenstein devotedly studied it later.). 

The same scene will get its third meaning, if I succeed in accomplishing my plan. There will be not only two films, made after the same short story by Judit Salgo, but it is possible, that I will make the third part as well. As I mentioned, the Minotaur film also speaks about the artists' reaction, who, with their secret, creative fight, poetry, music and “invisible art”, attempt to change the system from the inside.
The artist group is a real one. They played in our district and they had been organising their invisible actions for years. The members used to be renowned artists and they did it so good, that nobody noticed that they were performing.

Minotaur is part of mid-length programme and will be screened three times:

  • Friday 29 Jan 22:30 LV 5
  • Saterday 30 Jan 14:00 Cin 4
  • Friday 5 Feb 09:30 Cin 3

More information about the film